Call it the fennel factor or the arugula influx: southern New England has witnessed a gastronomic revolution. Preparation and ingredients reflect the culinary trends of nearby Manhattan and Boston; indeed, the quality and diversity of Connecticut restaurants now rival those of such sophisticated metropolitan areas. Although traditional favorites remain—such as New England clam chowder, buttery lobster rolls, Yankee pot roast, and fish-and-chips—Grand Marnier is now favored on ice cream over hot fudge sauce; sliced duck is wrapped in phyllo and served with a ginger-plum sauce (the orange glaze decidedly absent); and everything from lavender to fresh figs is used to season and complement dishes. Dining is increasingly international: you'll find Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, South American, and Japanese restaurants—even Spanish tapas bars—in cities and suburbs. Designer martinis are quite the rage, brewpubs have popped up around the state, and even caviar is making a comeback. The one drawback of this turn toward sophistication is that finding a dinner entrée for less than $10 is difficult.
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